Moochers Beware – Don’t Take Used Furniture

By Mark | Bed Bug Prevention

It’s often tempting to pick up used furniture that we see on the side of a street. It can save us a lot of money to get furniture for free when even a really cheap bed can cost $100. And many people when they move can’t take some of their furniture (because it doesn’t fit in their new place or because they’re upgrading to newer and better furniture).

That’s why it often seems like a great deal to just pick up that used furniture nobody wants.

Unfortunately, if you’re thinking about doing so (or if you already have done so), then please be aware that there may be bed bugs on the furniture you’re taking into your home! So, what may seem like a great money-saver could end up costing you way more than you bargained for. It can cost a lot of money as well as a ton of headache to get rid of a bed bug infestation. So, it’s usually way better not to risk it. Just fork out the money and buy furniture new if you can.

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How To Dispose Of Bed Bug Infested Furniture

It’s always good to put up signs on any furniture you discard.

If you’re throwing away furniture that is perfectly good and not bed bug infested, put a simple note on it letting people know that it’s safe to take. Of course, even if you see a sign saying “no bed bugs” it may still not be wise to take items like fabric sofas or mattresses if they’ve been sitting on the sidewalk for a while because you never know what sorts of bugs might have gotten onto them.

It can also help your neighbors feel safe if you label your used furniture as bed-bug-free so they know not to start worrying about the potential of bed bugs in their place. This is especially the case if you’re throwing away what looks to be a good mattress or box springs or bed.

cc photo credit: calculat0r

If you are throwing away used furniture that is infested with bed bugs, then please also clearly label it so. That way, hopefully no one will take that item into their homes. This labeling also helps the cleaning crew who pick up the used furniture so they know to be very careful when taking it.

If possible, when disposing of any bed bug infested items, try to wrap it up in a plastic bag so that the bed bugs are trapped and won’t go to infest someone else’s home. This also makes it easier for the cleaning crew to take that item away to be disposed.

cc photo credit: Commodore Gandalf Cunningham

What To Do If You Took In Used Furniture?

If you recently took in some pieces of used furniture, then please do a few checks to ensure your home isn’t already infested with bed bugs from that furniture. Even just 1 bed bug that comes into your home can cause a huge outbreak.

The first sign of bed bugs for most people is when they get bites at night. Bed bug bites are usually small and round and can be slightly red and itchy. Other people get a rash. Some people find a set of 3 bites (the breakfast, lunch, and dinner bites) as the bed bugs re-bite you when you move in your sleep and disturb their feeding.

However, as you can tell by the description of bed bug bites above, bed bug bites can look like many other insect bites and can also be similar to allergic reactions. So, what can you do to tell whether you have a bed bug infestation at home?

You should use a few other ways of determining whether you have bed bugs or not.

Get a bed bug trap like Climb Up. These are simple devices that you place around your bed legs so that any bed bugs going up or down the bed legs will get trapped in the device. Once you catch a bed bug, then you’ll know for certain whether you have bed bugs biting you or not.

You can also create your own bed bug traps by spreading something sticky like Vaseline on your bed legs so that any bed bugs climbing up will be stuck there. Double-sided tape can also work well if you put the tape around the bed legs and around your bed. You’ll need to carefully inspect the tape every few days to see whether any bed bugs are stuck on it.

What To Do If You Have Bed Bugs?

If you do find bed bugs in your home, then act quickly. You must try to kill all the bed bugs as quickly as possible to prevent the infestation from growing. There’s also an added problem of any bed bug eggs they may have laid around your home (or ones that came on the used furniture you took in). Bed bugs are very small and difficult to see already and bed bug eggs are even smaller unfortunately. So you need to go over your home very carefully in order to ensure you kill all of them.

The best method we’ve found for eliminating bed bugs is to use a dry steamer. This is a simple device that operates by emitting a very small stream of very hot steam. This hot steam will then heat up the material you place it near. For example, you can use the dry steamer on your mattress to kill any bed bugs or bed bug eggs that may be on the surface and also under the surface of the mattress (since bed bugs can get between the gaps in the fabric).

Unfortunately, there’s a chance that any bed bugs or bed bug eggs very deep inside the mattress won’t get killed because the dry steamer won’t be able to heat the center of your mattress to the temperature needed to kill them. So, we also recommend you get a mattress encasement to make sure no bed bugs can get out of your mattress and come bite you. If you keep the mattress encased for 1 year, then the bed bugs will die from starvation and your mattress will be bed bug free again.

If you have box springs as well, then please repeat this procedure for that as well i.e., dry steam the box springs and then place a box springs encasement on them.

Honestly, getting a mattress encasement is a great idea regardless of whether you have bed bugs or not because they can protect your expensive mattress from water damage (e.g., you spill water on it), mold (e.g., if you don’t dry the spill immediately), or stains (e.g., your dog or child pees on your bed). And of course, the encasement can also protect your mattress from bed bugs getting into it. Just make sure to get a mattress encasement made from good sturdy material that won’t rip easily. Check for tears in the fabric before using it and tape up the enclosure.

Of course, it’s not just your bed that may be infested by bed bugs (although they do tend to hang out near your bed so they have easy access to you at night). Carpets, sofas, clothes can all get infested. So make sure to dry steam all your rooms and all your furniture. And also wash all your clothes on the hottest setting – the heat will kill bed bugs. For items of clothing that can’t be washed, dry them in your dryer on the hottest setting (if that won’t damage the clothes).

Another option to kill bed bugs that’s often mentioned is bed bug sprays. However, we don’t recommend this option unless you have visible infestations. Bed bug sprays like Steri Fab tend to be pretty effective at killing bed bugs but you will have to reapply many times so it’s best to apply on areas where there’s a large bed bug infestation that you can see.

Other bed bug sprays like Bed Bug Bully or Eco Defense are considered safer to use around the home because they’re made from natural ingredients like essential oils. Unfortunately, this also means they’re not as effective at killing bed bugs. That’s why we don’t recommend their use generally.

One last thing you’ll want to do to ensure all the last bed bugs are killed off is to spread diatomaceous earth around your home. This white powder will dehydrate and kill any bed bugs (or other bugs) that walk across it. It’s often even used for killing other insects. Make sure you place some of this around your bedroom – a very thin layer of the dust will work. Make sure to apply it in the corners and under your bed and in other places where you’re unlikely to disturb it.

Last Thoughts On Taking Used Furniture

Our advice is to not take used furniture if you can help it. It’s such a huge hassle to have to get rid of bed bugs from your home that it’s really just not worth it. And it can often be very costly to deal with a bed bug infestation so you won’t even be saving money!

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